FMA Communications Inc.

Tim Heston

Senior Editor
FMA Communications Inc.
833 Featherstone Road
Rockford, IL 61107
MEC Robotic Welding

How a big fabricator grows even bigger

June 7, 2011

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Mayville Engineering Co. of Mayville, Wis., has grown into a metal fabrication powerhouse, with seven plants that altogether employ more than 1,000 workers. But it hasn’t been an easy ride. Less than a decade ago, MEC was struggling to find its way. Today, the company has a conservative, healthy balance sheet, and plenty of runway room for serious growth.

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Plate Rolling

Plate rolls keep rolling heavier plate

June 2, 2011

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These days, plate rolls are forming plate 6 and 7 inches thick--and even thicker. Vessel designs that would have been forged just a decade ago are now being sent to fabrication houses. The variable-geometry plate roll system, which really operates more like a press brake than a traditional plate roll, is making such extreme rolling possible.

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 Atlanta Attachment’s shop floor

The merits of a manufacturing hybrid

June 2, 2011

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Atlanta Precision Machine & Fabrication, a job shop launched in 2009, represents the latest venture of Atlanta Attachment Co., a made-to-order equipment manufacturer that has found success with diversification, both in the markets it serves and the services it offers, from basic fabrication to complete assembly.

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The race for stateside manufacturing

May 31, 2011

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My dad was the first to call when I got home. He’s a retired history professor, so he usually doesn’t have that much input on my job-related travels, but last week was different. I had driven to Advanced Technology Sales & Service, a Mitsubishi dealer in Greensboro, N.C. ATS held its grand...

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Good moments in metal fabrication

May 16, 2011

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This May has had some great moments, and the Navy SEALs’ heroic efforts at that mysterious, now famous compound in northeast Pakistan is just one of them. Some moments have been bittersweet. The Monday after tornadoes hit Alabama, I called one fabricator there who hadn’t received my e-mails;...

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Tube cutting laser

The “hole” picture in laser tube cutting

May 6, 2011

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Ace Metal Crafts installs a laser tube cutting system with integrated tapping, a system that has shown its strength when producing structural tube. The machine cuts tube shapes, laser cuts holes, and performs tapping all in one setup.

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Sustainable jobs need sustainable growth

April 25, 2011

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In May 2009, as I merged onto a congested I-94, driving from the airport to the ALAW Advanced Laser Applications Workshop outside Detroit, I saw a billboard for W Industries, a local metal fabricator. Not only was it odd seeing a contract fabricator advertised so prominently, but the sign’s...

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Two ways to manage manufacturing risk

April 19, 2011

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Last week I visited two facilities that focused on low- to medium-volume manufacturing. Both customize products to meet customer needs. Both tout quick response and comprehensive customer service. Yet in many respects, the two couldn’t have been more different. A week ago today I pulled into the...

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The jungle of tax reform

April 11, 2011

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On Friday night I was like a kid half-heartedly doing his homework while watching the weather and awaiting the snowstorm. I kept thinking the storm would close school (government shutdown), and I could stop this blasted homework (my income taxes). Then at the 11th hour (literally: it was a little...

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Manufacturing rockets: Metal fabricating what’s next

April 5, 2011

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This week I recalled one of my favorite television moments. During an early West Wing episode, one of the president’s advisers, Sam Seaborn, argues for the extension of NASA funding. After several minutes of heated banter, his counterpart asks why space travel is so important when we have so much...

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bending tread plate

The science of bending perforated sheet and tread plate

April 1, 2011

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Tread plate and perforated sheet present significant bending challenges. To help matters, fabricators may need to look beyond typical air bending with a punch and V die. Though bending alternatives vary, they have one commonality: They clamp down to ensure the workpiece stays where it should.

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Laser cut turning parts

Diverse, quick, and growing

April 1, 2011

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Tennessee job shop finds success through diversifying its capabilities, from laser cutting, press brake bending, and robotic welding, to milling, turning, and boring. The shop turns around many jobs in only a few days.

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Manufacturing productivity: Work less, accomplish more

March 29, 2011

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A review copy of Jim Womack’s Gemba Walks, published by the Lean Enterprise Institute, came in the mail today, and I’m beginning to make my way through it. When I saw the title, I immediately thought of a scene in The Goal, Eliyahu Goldratt’s business novel on the theory of constraints. In it...

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Earthquakes, job shops, and the global supply chain

March 21, 2011

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With Japan in crisis, so are global supply chains. With the world’s third-largest economy basically in standby mode, manufacturers stateside--and around the world--are scrambling to adapt. Most metal fabricators aren’t assemblers sitting at the end of a long global supply chain, but many of...

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Critical laser cutting, welding tested in Japanese crisis

March 15, 2011

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When news broke of the earthquake-damaged nuclear plant in Japan, my mind turned to Jim Bleigh at Performance Contracting Inc., a Lenexa, Kan., company The FABRICATOR covered earlier this year. His group of talented welders, laser cutting machine operators, and assemblers fabricated strainers...

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